Code name Poster... The first practical matter transmitter was a success, or so everyone thought. In spite of paranoid security restrictions, ?Justin Williams and Cinnamon Wright, co-inventers of the device, counted on it to revolutionize civilization and gain them an honored place in history. But the first long distance field test with a human being - a diplomatic courier carrying a vital message - somehow misfired when the courier killed himself on arrival at his destination. To prove his faith in his invention -- and to escape charges of sabotage -- Justin had himself "posted" thousands of miles. He same through unchanged. It was the world that was somehow different...
John Brunner was born in Preston Crowmarsh, near Wallingford in Oxfordshire, and went to school at St Andrew's Prep School, Pangbourne, then to Cheltenham College. He wrote his first novel, Galactic Storm, at 17, and published it under the pen-name Gill Hunt, but he did not start writing full-time until 1958. He served as an officer in the Royal Air Force from 1953 to 1955, and married Marjorie Rosamond Sauer on 12 July 1958
At the beginning of his writing career Brunner wrote conventional space opera pulp science fiction. Brunner later began to experiment with the novel form. His 1968 novel "Stand on Zanzibar" exploits the fragmented organizational style John Dos Passos invented for his USA trilogy, but updates it in terms of the theory of media popularised by Marshall McLuhan.
"The Jagged Orbit" (1969) is set in a United States dominated by weapons proliferation and interracial violence, and has 100 numbered chapters varying in length from a single syllable to several pages in length. "The Sheep Look Up" (1972) depicts ecological catastrophe in America. Brunner is credited with coining the term "worm" and predicting the emergence of computer viruses in his 1975 novel "The Shockwave Rider", in which he used the term to describe software which reproduces itself across a computer network. Together with "Stand on Zanzibar", these novels have been called the "Club of Rome Quartet", named after the Club of Rome whose 1972 report The Limits to Growth warned of the dire effects of overpopulation.
Brunner's pen names include K. H. Brunner, Gill Hunt, John Loxmith, Trevor Staines, Ellis Quick, Henry Crosstrees Jr., and Keith Woodcott. In addition to his fiction, Brunner wrote poetry and many unpaid articles in a variety of publications, particularly fanzines, but also 13 letters to the New Scientist and an article about the educational relevance of science fiction in Physics Education. Brunner was an active member of the organisation Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and wrote the words to "The H-Bomb's Thunder", which was sung on the Aldermaston Marches.
Brunner had an uneasy relationship with British new wave writers, who often considered him too American in his settings and themes. He attempted to shift to a more mainstream readership in the early 1980s, without success. Before his death, most of his books had fallen out of print. Brunner accused publishers of a conspiracy against him, although he was difficult to deal with (his wife had handled his publishing relations before she died).
Brunner's health began to decline in the 1980s and worsened with the death of his wife in 1986. He remarried, to Li Yi Tan, on 27 September 1991. He died of a heart attack in Glasgow on 25 August 1995, while attending the World Science Fiction Convention there
aka K H Brunner, Henry Crosstrees Jr, Gill Hunt (with Dennis Hughes and E C Tubb), John Loxmith, Trevor Staines, Keith Woodcott
Winner of the ESFS Awards in 1980 as "Best Author" and 1n 1984 as "Novelist"..
Testing their newly developed teleportation technology, Dr. Justin Williams and his team discover that their test subjects are being shifted into parallel universes whose difference from the universe of origin increases in proportion to the distance the subject has been sent. Not a bad idea for a novel, but John Brunner fails to develop his theme adequately in this thin volume. Brunner's forte is really more toward the societal aspects of speculative fiction rather than technological extrapolation, yet he depends too much on almost mystical computers and technobabble regarding "transfinite numbers" to achieve his effect. The device of subtly different alternate universes could have been exploited in far more interesting ways.
The author spends the 154 pages creating a compelling parallel worlds premise, but shuts down the book before giving us a story to go with it. Still, it's 154 pages; it's too short to drag or bore. The best moments in the book are just after something living goes through a "poster" - a matter transmitter with the unanticipated side-effect of involuntary reality-swapping. This talky book, with chatty characters perpetually in conference trying to figure out multiverse theory as applied to accidents, does get, in all the chatter, rather deep when it comes to pondering what "infinite realities" truly means - and how hard it is to grasp. In this book, computers are ahead of us in figuring it out, and maybe we can't catch up. So maybe shut the whole thing down? But to the "poster" inventors - Justin and Cinnamon - it becomes clear that on certain parallel Earths, traveling the dimensions has been figured out, and is being put to good use...as opposed to those realities where people are going insane because of the possibilities...
If all this suggests a great plot, let me pull back to my original point - that's what's missing. The key moments in the book lead inevitably to more chatter, sometimes trippy fun, sometimes not. The book seems to end promising a best hundred pages that don't show up...in this universe. I find myself recommending Men Like Gods by H. G. Wells - from 1922! - as a parallel worlds novel I can get more excited about, than this one. Still, it's only 154 pages. And I love the title, The Infinitive of Go. The Infinitive of Go...
A critically injured astronaut is transferred to the surface via an experimental matter transmitter, only to materialize as an ape from an alternate dimension. An ape who shares the astronaut’s name and background, but who comes from a world where apes evolved intelligence in ‘parallel’ with Homo Sapiens of our world.
Turns out the ape society knows about this potential cross-over effect, but his injuries were severe enough to compel him to risk being stranded. It also turns out that every transmitee *always* arrives in a different universe than he or she left, and a subjectively better one at that. Unfortunately, the ape informs them that 99% of the Homo Sapien cultures turn violently self-destructive in the aftermath of the realization of the cross-over effect and of the existence of an infinite number of alternate realities, with an infinite number of alternate selves for each of us.
But, there is hope. Transmitting copies of an encyclopedia or other information source results in the reception of a comparable document from another reality, sometimes with more advanced technology and psychological insights, including one which informs them that in universes where the creator of the matter transmitter was among the first to be transmitted (as in this case), 99% of the time civilization does survive.
Uff, am citit, sau mai bine zis am răzbit până la capăt, și încă nu pot să-mi dau seama care este principalul vinovat pentru dificultatea mea de a parcurge acest roman.
Poate că eu sunt de vină, eram probabil obosit și nu se legau paginile... dar chiar șapte zile la rând de oboseală? Pentru că de o săptămână am avut nevoie ca să termin cartea aceasta destul de subțirică.
Pe autor, pe John Brunner, îl scot de pe lista suspecților, îmi este imposibil să cred că s-a apucat la un moment dat să se bălăcească în confortul mediocrității literare, toate cărțile sale pe care le-am citit până acum fiind ori foarte bune, ori excepționale. Iar ideile și speculațiile prezente în acest roman îi poartă amprenta, îți reamintești imediat câtă forță are acest uriaș autor. Universuri alternative sau posibile, sincronizate sau incongruente, lumi pe cale de consecință, o bucurie de fiecare dată să citești și să te reîntâlnești cu așa o minte admirabilă. Și Brunner nu a îmbrăcat niciodată conținutul remarcabil al operelor sale într-o formă literară ieftină...
Așa că rămân doar doi suspecți, și anume editura și traducătorul. Dintr-un punct de vedere strict tehnic editura nu este doar suspect, ci inculpat dovedit, și aici nu există vreun dubiu, pentru că am în bibliotecă volumul pe post de probă. Editura Militară mi-a oferit de-a lungul vremii lecturi de calitate, publicate într-o formă cel puțin decentă, așa că îmi este greu să înțeleg cum de s-a încumetat să iasă pe piață cu un astfel de rebut.
Mare parte din pagini sunt la limita suportabilului, un adevărat test oftalmologic pe care de abia am reușit să-l trec. Hârtie de ziar, imprimată prost și cu mare economie la cerneala tipografică, rânduri întregi blurate, dublate sau cu supratipar ca la mărcile poștale, de vreo câteva ori am fost nevoit să ies afară ca să țin cartea în lumina soarelui, altfel ar fi fost imposibil să-mi dau seama ce Dumnezeu scrie acolo...
Dar aceste considerente de ordin tehnic nu afectează calitatea romanului, pentru că de acest lucru se ocupă traducerea, pe care nu știu cum să o definesc, am de ales între “deficitară” și “oribilă”.
Sper totuși că editura nu poartă vreo responsabilitate pentru asta, îmi doresc să cred că nimeni de acolo nu a verificat ce a ieșit după procesul de traducere, toată lumea fiind probabil ocupată cu procurarea de hârtie de calitate și de tuș …
I found it a little difficult to read--not only the mathematical speculation; even the dialogues and descriptive paragraphs struck me as hard to follow, as if nothing were worded the easy way. Still, a great combination of colorful yet well-argued sci-fi. And Cinnamon is the first female scientist character I've seen who sounds disarmingly smart rather than engagingly sexy.
This is how speculative fiction is supposed to work. It even made me look up some of the underlying science and math just because I wanted to understand better than was necessary to follow the story. Creativity trigger: check. Compelling drama: check.
Chapter one: good start, interesting premise, excellent immediacy-of-scene writing. Chapter two: well, that's disappointing. Needlessly detailed back story of a drive to work. At least these chapters are short. Chapter three: now things are just getting stupid. Rich guy intimidates his employee scientists by bringing them to his luxury home, then transforms his dining nook into presentation space ("Moving to a control-board set in the side of the house, Bulker touched a series of switches. The breakfast-table and its burden of crockery slid silently away to the kitchen, while a roof-panel shut out the sky and a wall in which were set holographic screens rose to meet it on the seaward side.") yet HAS NOTHING TO PRESENT. Seriously. The convo is basically 'You heard what happened? I'll play you a recording of the event when I get it. Now go figure out what went wrong.' Chapter four: oh hell no. Introducing some other major players, bit o science babble, rampant speculation unworthy of any scientist prior to any evidence gathering. But then. Oh, then.
Side note here. I remember that 1980 (original publication date) was still a pretty damn unenlightened time for American society and I can understand that Brunner was doing his best to be progressive or whatever by having one of the main scientists be *gasp* a woman and by making a point of having a strict demographic quota (one white man, one black man, one white woman, one black woman) for each group of human subject volunteers and that this next bit was probably the author trying to show how hip and shockingly modern he is, but holy crap.
This is the sum total of how the four volunteers were written about:
"The white woman out of the four was fortyish and four-square, while the black one was a few years younger and slimmer. Looking at her, Justin felt a pang of crazy insight. Maybe before she was transferred someone should take her to bed and run a kind of Masters & Johnson evaluation, and then repeat the process afterwards. Maybe some significant change would show up.
But who could one trust to undertake the task - a superstud with a thousand pubic scalps to his credit? The notion faded as rapidly as it had come,... "
Imma nope out of here so hard right now.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This is one of those books where you just know the author read some sort of paper in a scientific journal and got his panties in a bundle about it. It was a pretty good read, relatively light for all the high-end mathematics talk that got thrown around. I suspect that if I were better at math (i.e. anywhere beyond Pre-Calculus) I'd either be a much bigger fan or I'd be frothing in rage at the stupid. As a know-nothing idjit, I'm quite content to let the sci-fi author have his little conceits and read the fun little story about parallel universes.
The book is very short (another factor in my belief that this was an "Oh what a cool idea!" story) and sadly thin on the ground. A lot of very intriguing plot material is touched upon lightly in the (occasionally endless) conversations the characters engage in, but not really fully explored. I think that it could have stood to be about 50% to 100% longer and it would all have been to the good, as far as readability was concerned. Still, it's a nice little sideline for those of you who are into the harder branches of science fiction and want a little light reading in between thoughtful perusals of "A Brief History of Time."
More of a 2 1/2 star novel. I read a novel last year with similar theme: teleportation device opens up parallel worlds and crazy kooky mayhem happens! This novel was fun and quick romp at just under 160 pages. I wish the novel was a little longer to flesh out the characters but definitely a decent read.
review of John Brunner's The Infinitive of Go by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - April 15, 2014
I'm not exactly cranking out the reviews so far this yr. That's partially b/c I'm in the midst of very slowly reading William Gaddis's The Recognitions AND Florian Cramer's Anti-Media. As such, I squeeze in the relatively easy reading of Brunner bks in the midst of the Gaddis & the Cramer to give myself a rest - wch is NOT to say that the Brunner bks are inferior!
The Infinitive of Go revisits Brunner's Meeting at Infinity (1961) (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6... ) insofar as it explores parallel universes AND it revisits Brunner's A Web of Everywhere (1974) (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... ) insofar as it explores teleportation. As such, it didn't strike me as groundbreaking for Brunner but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.
The opening epigraph of Chapter One reads:
" to travel faster than a speeding bullet is not much help if you and it are heading straight towards each other " - p 1
Ha ha! Technology may solve some problems but, like medical drugs w/ their inevitable side-effects, may just aggravate others.
"Sometimes, he thought bitterly, Chester reminded him more than anybody of the Moslem warlord who burned the great library of Alexandria, on the grounds that if the manuscripts therein agreed with the Koran they were superfluous, and if they disagreed they were heretical." - p 9
& there we have the basis of my argument against religion encapsulated. Just as Christians have proposed the notion of "One Way" (ie: their way & no-one else's) so did a Moslem burn the world's greatest body of knowledge. NOW, I detest religion - esp the 2 main perpetually warring gangs: the Moslems & the Christians. However, in the interest of fairness, I quote the following Wikipedia article as a way to show that the Moslems may've gotten a bad rep in relation to the burning of the Alexandrian library that they may not entirely deserve:
"The famous burning of the Library of Alexandria, including the incalculable loss of ancient works, has become a symbol of the irretrievable loss of public knowledge. Although there is a mythology of "the burning of the Library at Alexandria", the library may have suffered several fires or acts of destruction of varying degrees over many years. Ancient and modern sources identify several possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria.
"During Caesar's Civil War, Julius Caesar was besieged at Alexandria in 48 BC. Many ancient sources describe Caesar setting fire to his own ships and state that this fire spread to the library, destroying it.
"[W]hen the enemy endeavored to cut off his communication by sea, he was forced to divert that danger by setting fire to his own ships, which, after burning the docks, thence spread on and destroyed the great library. —Plutarch, Life of Caesar
Bolstering this claim, in the 4th century both the pagan historian Ammianus and the Christian historian Orosius wrote that the Bibliotheca Alexandrina had been destroyed by Caesar's fire. However, Florus and Lucan claim that the flames Caesar set only burned the fleet and some "houses near the sea". Years after Caesar's campaign in Alexandria, the Greek geographer Strabo claimed to have worked in the Alexandrian Library.
"The library seems to have continued in existence to some degree until its contents were largely lost during the taking of the city by the Emperor Aurelian (270–275 AD), who was suppressing a revolt by Queen Zenobia of Palmyra. During the course of the fighting, the areas of the city in which the main library was located were damaged. Some sources claim that the smaller library located at the Serapeum survived, though Ammianus Marcellinus wrote of the library in the Serapeum temple as a thing of the past, destroyed when Caesar sacked Alexandria.
"Paganism was made illegal by an edict of the Emperor Theodosius I in 391 AD. The temples of Alexandria were closed by Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria in AD 391. The historian Socrates of Constantinople describes that all pagan temples in Alexandria were destroyed, including the Serapeum. Since the Serapeum housed a part of the Great Library, some scholars believe that the remains of the Library of Alexandria were destroyed at this time. However, it is not known how many, if any, books were contained in it at the time of destruction, and contemporary scholars do not mention the library directly.
"In 642 AD, Alexandria was captured by the Muslim army of Amr ibn al `Aas. Several later Arabic sources describe the library's destruction by the order of Caliph Omar. Bar-Hebraeus, writing in the 13th century, quotes Omar as saying to Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī: "If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them." Later scholars are skeptical of these stories, given the range of time that had passed before they were written down and the political motivations of the various writers." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_...
Tangent over (sortof). Much later in the novel, Brunner has the Christians be the ones stomping on knowledge: "The worst problem came from a handful of Christians who had been invited to join the team; they proved to be fundamentalist to a man, and Landini in their terms was necessarily a tool of Satan. The fact that he admitted to being a non-practicing Catholic aggravated matters . . ." (pp 110-111)
"A fifth channel: a fundamentalist preacher was declaring with enormous fervor that Landini must be a devil because the only intelligent beings the Lord ever created were Adam and Eve, and they were white, and their original sin was to engage in relations with their own children in order to propagate the species, and that was why the Lord made some of their children black, and if anything that stood up on its hind legs and talked to you wasn't precisely like Adam and Eve that was a sure sign that creature was accursed and the blessing of the Lord would rest upon anyone who got it, and the Godless servants of Satan who were trying to foist it on an unenlightened public, in the sights of a rifle and had it skinned and mounted and presented it to a church or a museum where the faithful for ever after might inspect the work of the Evil One . . ." - p 140
"When he sent his one and only published paper on the poster principle to a carefully-selected journal known for its hospitality to avant-garde ideas and its willingness to reprint lengthy computer analyses of the type known jokingly as "yet another four-color problem"—after the classic computer-exhaustive list of solutions to that classic poser in topology—he had been firmly convinced that it would instantly be recognized as a breakthrough. He had dared to hope it might be called a work of genius." - p 11
Ha ha! Seems like the kind of journal that wd print something by me. I wonder if Brunner had any particular journal in mind as an inspiration?
In the world that the main character, Justin, starts out in, Chester gets Dept of Defense funding to develop Justin's teleporter (called a "poster"). "What it amounted to was this: he had become a weapon, and against his will." (p 12) A typical problem of scientists whose work depends on massive funding that only the military or insidious corporate interests are capable of providing.
Brunner is great at depicting social scenes in wch personality quirks are deftly skecthed:
""You haven't met these people before," Levi said, giving Lane a skeletal grin. "They aren't scientists. They're magicians. They invent terms as and when they need to. What's rho-space? It's where the object goes which is being shifted from transmitter to receptor at the speed of light! I was told that something moving that fast would acquire infinite mass. Yes, they say, so it must. So where's the mass? It manifests as energy. Now just a moment, I say! You're using a lot of energy for the transfer, but it isn't infinite! Of course not, they say. The surplus doesn't even show up as heat. Of course not, they say. Where is it? It's in rho-space, they say. Are you any the wiser? I swear I'm not!"" - p 26
Now, I often write these reviews in a way that deliberately avoids plot-spoilers & that deliberately encourages personal tangents. Hence I quote the epigraph at the beginning of Chapter Eleven b/c it reinforces my own reasoning for not taking sleeping pills:
" two sleeping-pills as always bringing guaranteed oblivion in the night of a whirlwind by day a cold awakening in a room full of wreckage with only the sky for a ceiling " - p 72
This "guaranteed oblivion" seems like all too poignantly comparable to the way that most people, in the US at least, seem unaware of just how much their personal liberty has been eroded away post-9/11 - & Brunner's novel seems to anticipate this somewhat:
"Instead of treating the situation as though it were the result of enemy action, drafting blanket legislation of a type previously seen only during a war—which, Justin had often sourly thought, was largely intended to ensure that as many citizens as possible could legally be entered in Federal computer-files" - p 72
It's always interesting for me when SF writers imagine future-tech & then try to describe it in a potentially believable way: "["]The device is conventionally termed a 'poster'. It is not"—he recalled Cinnamon's annoyance when Lane said people were being scrambled—"the matter transmitter familiar as a science-fiction prop. There is not direct communication between the dispatching and the receiving ends; the space within them is rendered congruent under the control of advancing computer systems and the location of the object being transferred becomes indefinite, so that it so to say shuttles from one to the other." (p 95) What's particularly interesting here is the side-effect of the process being "under the control of advancing computer systems" & the way Brunner develops that. BUT, I don't want to give too much away.
""The total dimensionality of the universe is of an order of aleph-four and may well be as high as aleph-five—in other words, much more infinite than infinity. Don't ask me for a quick course in Cantorian transfinities, please!["]" - p 127
Well, I looked them up in my own excellent Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich & other examples of P.N.T. (Perverse Number Theory) bk - specifically on page "356 surreal numbers" in the "GLOSSARY: terms" section & all I found was this measly: "transfinite numbers = Georg Cantor's term for infinitely large numbers". That doesn't tell us much now does it? But it DID give me an excuse to reference my unpublished bk that I wrote over 6 yrs ago.
Parallel World history is always fun as either an example of wishful thinking or as dystopian warning or whatever: "This Adolf Hitler of yours: near as I can figure, he corresponds to a pan-Germanic fanatic who acquired a small following during the economic depression but murdered his lover, a guy called Roehm, and spent the rest of his life in a lunatic asylum writing crazy letters to the government about Jewish money-lenders." / "What about Stalin?" someone demanded. / "He didn't change his name. As Iosip Dzhugashvili he did more than anyone to bring about reform in Russia!" / "The Viet-Nam war!" came another shout. / "You mean when the nationalists took over from the French colonial power?"" (pp 136-137)
This book was a lot of fun. The idea of teleporters gone wrong is well trodden in science fiction, I imagine most SF authors take a stab at it. John Brunner puts his distinctive mark on the trope, giving us a fast paced exploration uniquely his own. Events are set into action on page one, and the characters never get a chance to fully reckon with them before new complications arise, again and again. Sort of like a caper story with brains. Best of all, it weighs in at 154 pages, a lean, quick read.
Some of the criticism leveled against the book is that it is too short. Readers may wish that Brunner had explored the ideas in greater depth. I'm not in this camp. Brunner knew what he wanted to say, and when he finished saying it, he stopped writing. Other authors could learn from his example. The Infinitive of Go isn't so much about teleportation, nor really about alternate universes. It's about what happens to human beings, both individually and collectively, when we learn that we are faced with the availability of literally infinite choice. With every decision we make, we are presented with an infinite range of options, from very good to very bad. In a field of infinite universes, where all choices not only can be made, but are in fact made in one universe or another, how can we know that we've made the right one, here and now? This is all academic in the abstract, but if we were suddenly faced with the idea that all possible choices were to be played out in reality, most people would suffer from crippling indecision, leading inexorably to mass insanity.
Or so John Brunner speculates in his novel. And it's an entertaining speculation, guaranteed to give rise to debate and argument. Which is what good science fiction ought to do. Brunner doesn't insist that you agree with him, he makes his argument quickly and steps out of the way.
Aside from that, I was amazed at how much the technological and social background in this novel resembled the reality we live in today. Written in 1980, and taking place 40 or 50 years later, we see routine gay marriage, a recognizable internet, social media, a rudimentary space station, and a political situation very much like our own. The story is packed full of discussion on transfinite set theory. It's intrinsic to the ideas expressed, but runs the risk of bogging the story down. Of the reviews I have read, a few readers thought this wasn't explained well enough. Most readers, (myself included), felt it sailing right over our heads. Still others wrote it off as mere technobabble, the author making up fake math to suit the needs of the plot. Brunner himself, through one of his characters, says at one point, "If you don't already know about transfinite numbers, I don't have time to explain the basics here. Get yourself a high school textbook or two, or just look it up on a computer terminal." Effectively, go look it up on Wikipedia. In 1980. This put a smile on my face.
This was only the second novel I've read by John Brunner, the first of course being Stand on Zanzibar. I look forward to reading more of him.
A short novel about a teleporter that gets you to the right destination but the wrong reality.
Two scientists try to work out bugs in their new teleporter, which works great for inanimate objects but has a tendency to send humans to the right place in the wrong universe. For the observer, it seems the person who arrives is a little (or a lot) different than the person who embarked. For the traveler, it seems the entire world is little (or a lot) different upon arrival.
Lots of set theory is thrown around, particularly stuff about the cardinality of infinite sets (with reference to many worlds theory), so there's lots of aleph-0, aleph-1, aleph-null jargon. But don't worry, the story makes sense without understanding the occasional bursts of math jargon.
As the story progresses, the problem of what's wrong with the teleporter pales in comparison to the problem of the survival of human civilization, at least the civilization in the particular universe the novel takes place in. A fun little read. Recommended.
1980 isn't prime John Brunner, but The Infinitive of Go shows the strong ideas are still there. It's just that at 154 pages, they don't have room to develop. The lead characters have invented a teleporter, though through some quirk of quantum physics, they soon realize it's more of a dimensional transporter. Psychological and philosophical ramifications are explored, and I could do with more exposition on the topic rather than more opaque conversations about the underlying maths. Still, Brunner creates a strong cast of characters, and I love the epigrammatic chapter openings. But just when it gets intriguing, The Infinitive of Go stops Going. The ending abruptly leaves off on an elliptical thought, and I'm not even sure how to interpret the characters' conclusions. Conclusions for them, vague questions for the reader. The book really needed a third act, or some kind of follow-up.
Sorry to say I have to give this book a Bad review. I enjoy John Brunner and feel I'm probably one of the few who still know his name and get excited to see his books on the shelf these days. I liked the idea of this book but I think it is one of his weakest books. The Idea and concept is good but the execution is bad. With th the short chapters and consistent jumping around for such a small 150ish page book I wonder if this was anouther case of 'force of hand.' This story would be better in a movie or a 1 hour short. Because it would be able to expand on his story and show the details I think he was trying to show. As a book it is weak but as an idea and concept it is not bad.
This was a really entertaining and interesting short novel from Brunner, one of the greats in the genre. In a way this is similar to his "Web of Everywhere" novel, but instead of economic reactions to being able to teleport anywhere, this story invokes a world of infinite universes. They have developed a machine that can "post" someone or something to the a recipient module almost instantly. The problem at hand is that the world on the other end is different in subtle ways. The further one is posted, the bigger the change. It's a quick, but effective story with good characters and a plot that makes you wonder at the premise of infinite universe theory.
6/10 I read this a while back and it hasn't stuck with me all that well. Deserves a re-read, despite a majority of middling reviews, as I struggle with sci-fi books from this era that throw a lot of technobabble at me. It's only 160 pages so where's the harm? Oh year, I've for 2,000 books with 160 pages waiting to be read. Doh!
Matter transmission seems to be one of John Brunner's favourite subjects, but unlike Larry Niven, Brunner is mainly concerned with the psychological and philosophical implications of the idea. In this story we have a crisis sparked by a wonky device that shifts human subjects sideways in time as well as from place to place. Since it's not possible to match the characteristics of the transmitter to the receiver exactly in every respect, the unfortunate subject skips to a parallel world where the match is accidentally closer. This can be personally disastrous for them, but when an injured astronaut is transmitted down from orbit and arrives as an evolved baboon speaking perfect English, all hell breaks loose. The story requires some thought to follow, usually a good sign with science fiction, and if you're not aware that some infinities are bigger than others, you might want to look up "transfinite mathematics" before reading this book. Up there with the best of his 1960s writing.
Testing their newly developed teleportation technology, a scientist and his team discover that their test subjects are being shifted into parallel universes whose difference from the universe of origin increases in proportion to the distance the subject has been sent. Not a bad idea for a novel, but John Brunner fails to develop his theme adequately in this thin volume. Brunner's forte is really more toward the societal aspects of speculative fiction rather than technological extrapolation, yet he depends too much on almost mystical computers and technobabble regarding "transfinite numbers" to achieve his effect. The device of subtly different alternate universes could have been exploited in far more interesting ways.
This was good, what at first I thought was going to be a simple transporter story, turned into much more. I'd recently watched the PBS show on physics and string theory, so the alternate universe theme was very interesting. The idea of pilgrims, traveling to these universes and how they'd be welcomed and how they'd react, is a great plot line. A much more positive view on mankind in the end, more hopeful that Stand on Zanzibar. Slightly dated in dialog, at points, but Brunner hits the nail on the head with the anti-science ideology of religious and political fundamentalists. my next Brunner book will be, The Sheep look Up.
A beautiful little Sci-Fi story that plays with the Many World Interpretation. There are many nonsense terms used in the story to explain strange scientific concepts, but the story manages to stay pretty well grounded. :3